Edinburgh parks: Dilapidated tennis pavilion transformed into cafe on Leith Links after £1 million makeover
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A dilapidated former tennis pavilion at the corner of Leith Links has been transformed into a new cafe, farm shop and space for a food market.
The building has been brought back to life by Earth in Common, formerly Crops in Pots, as part of their booming urban croft where locals share space on the two-acre land growing fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Now, following the reopening of the new Pavilion, Hingabootery Café, Farm Shop The Hearty Bùth! the charity behind the croft initiative also plans to bring back the farmers market and stock it with produce from the market garden, as well as hosting other events, including birthday parties.
Local mum Evie Murray started a movement ten years ago when she took her kids to the neglected corner of the Links to show them where food came from. Ms Murray had grown up in tenement flats. Her aim was to reclaim common good land to make healthy food and nature accessible to the community.
After setting up Crops in Pots, the initiative took root and the charity saw a boom in popularity of the croft during the pandemic when green spaces proved a lifeline for many in the city.
Varied groups use the community space, which is thriving with forest gardens, edible flowers, kale and a variety of vegetables and fruits including apples that taste like champagne. The charity also runs a programme of nature play for children at the market garden called ‘minecroft’,
Ms Murray also started the garden project at Dr Bells family centre. She told the Evening News: “I used to take the kids to school in a wheelbarrow and other kids would say they wanted to go in one too. We first turned up at this space with watering cans and a few crops in pots. We created a group and built it up from there. I remember at the time talk about the tattie blight and different natural remedies. It’s a small bit of land but people really have made it their own.”
Food grown in the market gardens will be sold in the cafe, including salads with edible flowers. The aim is to help make healthy, locally grown produce affordable as people grapple with rising food costs and soaring bills. There's also hopes to create a bandstand from old shipping containers and bring back ‘fix your bike’ workshops.
Following the revamp the charity also has their sights set on expanding outside of Edinburgh, to Fife and East Ayrshire.
Ms Murray added: “It’s amazing to see it all coming together. Most people grow in groups, we also have families and older people too. It’s a community growing space so we don’t gate it off like allotments. It’s open and accessible to all. We saw more and more people coming during the pandemic. The goal is to make enough from events to be able to keep the cost of food low and help people during the cost of living crisis. We want to invite people down to get a coffee and check out the space. There’s loads on and something here for everyone.”